Sunday 23 September 2018

Suarez on target again as Uruguay top Group A with comfortable win over Russia

Uruguay 3 Russia 0

Soccer Football - World Cup - Group A - Uruguay vs Russia - Samara Arena, Samara, Russia - June 25, 2018 Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Dylan Martinez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group A - Uruguay vs Russia - Samara Arena, Samara, Russia - June 25, 2018 Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Dylan Martinez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Luis Suarez led the way as Uruguay made sure of top spot in Group A by ending 10-man Russia's perfect start to their own World Cup in humbling fashion.

Suarez fired the South Americans in front with a sweetly-struck free-kick just 10 minutes in at the Samara Arena before Denis Cheryshev deflected Diego Laxalt's effort past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev 13 minutes later to double the advantage.

Russia's hopes of launching a fightback were effectively dashed before half-time when full-back Igor Smolnikov was sent off for a second bookable offence and, although they were much improved after the restart, Edinson Cavani struck again at the death as Uruguay coasted to a 3-0 win to complete a maximum haul of nine points without conceding a single goal.

They will face the runners-up in Group B in the last 16.

Uruguay got off to a positive start when Matias Vecino whistled a long-range effort just wide of Akinfeev's right post with less than two minutes gone as the South Americans served warning of their intent.

But the Russia keeper was beaten with 10 minutes gone after midfielder Rodrigo Betancur was tripped on the edge of the penalty area after Suarez had broken free down the left and crossed.

The Barcelona striker stepped up to smash the resulting free-kick low to Akinfeev's left and into the bottom corner after Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich inexplicably moved out of the way to clear the path to goal.

Russia might have been level within two minutes, but three-goal midfielder Cheryshev directed his volley from Artem Dzyuba's header straight at Fernando Muslera, winning his 100th senior cap in the Uruguayan goal.

However, the hosts' plight took a further turn for the worse with 23 minutes played when, after Lucas Torreira's corner had been only half-cleared, Laxalt's fierce driver took a wicked deflection off Cheryshev and flew past the keeper to make it 2-0.

Akinfeev kept his side's fading hopes alive by denying Betancur a goal on his 21st birthday five minutes later, although they were dealt a further blow nine minutes before the break when Smolnikov, who had earlier been booked for a foul on Cavani, felled Laxalt and received a second yellow card.

Having replaced Cheryshev with Mario Fernandes in the immediate aftermath of Smolnikov's premature departure, Russia boss Stanislav Cherchesov sent on midfielder Daler Kuziaev for Yuri Gazinsky at the break and saw his team rally.

With striker Fedor Smolov added to the mix as a replacement for Alexei Miranchuk, Russia battled for a way back into the game in sweltering heat, but as Uruguay skipper Diego Godin marshalled his defensive troops, chances were few and far between.

Godin was denied a goal to cap a fine individual performance when Akinfeev somehow kept out his 90th-minute bullet header, but Cavani was on hand to stab home the rebound and seal the win.

Press Association

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